Toronto is looking for a follow-up party to the Pan Am Games, the city should
look at hosting the Commonwealth Games. That’s the advice from a business
expert who has studied the economics of the Olympic Games.
you want to have a party, try hosting the Commonwealth Games. It’s a cheaper
party,” says Tsur Somerville, a professor at the University of British
Columbia’s Sauder School of Business. Affordability is all relative, he tells
Yahoo Canada News.
and Ontario could, no doubt, find the resources to host the largest athletic
competition in the world given the
speculation last week about a possible 2024 Olympic bid.
question is whether that’s the best use of resources,” he says. “My advice to
Toronto would be Toronto and Ontario have a whole bunch of things that they’re
in debt on, that they need to spend money on that strike me as more important.
I think I’d get my electrical and transport situation worked out first and then
worry about the Olympics.”
says the Olympic Games build city spirit and inspire athletes — benefits that
are hard to quantify. But there is no evidence of any economic benefit to
hosting the Games, he says.
you have a city where you never do anything fun, it’s kind of a dull city. But
this is a really, really expensive party and the people who really benefit from
it is the IOC [International Olympic Committee].”
impact study carried out for Vancouver and Whistler after they hosted the 2010
Games found much the same. The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics were the first
required by the IOC to conduct impact studies, prior to and after the Games.
The assessment by the University of British Columbia looked at the expected
benefits and costs of hosting the Games. It found:
— The Sea-to-Sky highway between Vancouver and Whistler
received a much-needed upgrade. Vancouver finally got a rapid transit line
linking the city to the Vancouver International Airport and the city saw a
major expansion to its Vancouver Convention Centre. The
2013 impact study by the University of British Columbia found that for
every $12 spent by the provincial and federal governments, city taxpayers spent
— While the Games in Vancouver and Whistler took advantage
of several existing venues, both cities benefited from facilities constructed
for the event, including the speed-skating oval and training rinks that now
serve as community centres. The athlete’s village built in Whistler helped
address a housing shortage for those working in the resort city.
Mitten Effect — The impact study noted a boost in
national pride across the country that the authors attributed to the success of
— An estimated 38,530 to 51,510 jobs in B.C. were created or supported by the
Games from 2003 to 2010 (21,690 jobs in the event year).
Revenue — The full tally of tax revenues was not available but the
study estimates that at least $50 million in income tax was generated from the
Vancouver organizing committee staffing and $10-19 million in tax revenue from
visitor spending during the Games.
— An estimated 1,500 new businesses were created in B.C. from 2003 to 2010 due
to the Games.
— The impact study found that, all-in, the Games cost $7.8 billion — one of the
best Olympic bargains in recent years. The public share of that was 62 per
cent, or $4.8 billion.
Village — The developers went bankrupt after the Games and the City
of Vancouver was left on the hook for $690 million in debt. The developer,
Millennium Development Group, never did pay the $170 million it promised the
city for the land. Last year Vancouver announced it had paid the debt off and
recouped the funds plus some from condo sales.
— The impact study found visitors did not appear to stay longer or spend more
money than usual in 2010.
Boom — The impact study found there was insufficient data to
determine whether the jobs and business generated by the Games were long-term;
nor was there enough data to determine the balance between the financial
benefit and the amount invested.
Footprint — From 2005 to 2010, energy consumption led to a cumulative
total of 277,677 CO2 equivalent of
greenhouse gas emissions, mostly during 2009-2010 and from transportation (87.5
— The study found that the Games did not appear to influence either the
Consumer Price Index or the real estate market (cost of homes) in the comparison
cities and there was not enough data to determine whether they had an effect on
the image of Vancouver.